Weigh In / Long Run 11.30.13

Though I hoped otherwise, I knew this was coming.  I didn’t dread it as much as I did last time, though, because I know what is about to happen.  The numbers:

Weight:  283.0

Two Week Gain / (Loss):  5 pounds

Total Gain / (Loss):  (44.4 pounds)

No way around this except to say that I’ve had a very rough month.  What I am convinced happened is that a series of bad choices around food finally caught up with me when my body forced a rest period from running.

So I’ve lost all of this weight with Weight Watchers.  There are good and bad things about any diet or system that you use, and overall I’m a fan of how WW handles this – eat what you want, but we’re going to teach you how much of what is appropriate, and if you can’t handle that, you’ll be hungry.  It’s helped me an awful lot.

Back in late summer, heading into (or maybe just coming out of) the last of the half marathon training, I decided that I was going to see if I could make it without tracking points.  The goal is to be able to eventually not need a system that I pay for – to be able to handle myself with food and exercise in such a way that I can maintain my weight.  And I think when I’m in maintenance mode, that’s probably going to be doable.  In weight loss mode, however, I find I struggle.

I’ve been eating badly now for weeks.  Pretty much whatever I wanted.  But since my mileage has been consistently high, I’ve been able to maintain my weight.  I’ve been frustrated with a several week plateau, but I haven’t been gaining weight.

And then a whole bunch of stuff happened all at once that has dramatically dropped my mileage for the last 3 – 4 weeks.  I’ve been traveling, for both work and personal trips, which shouldn’t matter but does.  I got a nasty cold that required me to back way off.  And then I did one of my boneheaded things and injured my toe.  So I’m way behind where I need to be in my mileage.

And this graph demonstrates clearly how out-of-whack I let it get.  Of course, Thanksgiving was in there, but that’s just an excuse.  This should not be happening.

Here and now, though, it stops.  I did a 6 mile run this afternoon (instead of my scheduled 9, but I went), and I’ve tracked my WW points for the day.  WW tracking is back on – no bite passes my lips until it has been logged.  And the mileage starts back up … now.

There was a time that this kind of blip would cause me to throw up my hands and quit.  This was a clear demonstration that I couldn’t do this and might as well quit now.  And go eat a bag of Oreos or something.  But not this time.

Not this time.

An Anniversary

One year ago today I went for my first run.  I set the alarm for 5am, laced up my brand new pair of shoes, and hit the door.  And walked right into a light ice-fall – basically a misty rain with some frozen stuff in it.

But I went ahead and did my thing.  And I started a log, one that I’ve kept for every run since.  Here’s what I wrote after that first run:

19m/mile pace!

“First Run!” was all I could think to say, really.  In later notes, I talk about how I felt and what the struggles were – or I let the runner’s high get involved and write things like “Great run!”

After this one, though, there wasn’t much to say.  I mostly walked.  And I walked over to a parking lot near my house and ran around the building a couple of times … because I was embarrassed for anybody to actually see me.  Several runs went by before I was able to run within eyesight of people.  For that first half dozen runs, I ran in the service lane behind the shopping centers near my house.

Nobody uses those service lanes.

Especially at 5am.

If I’d wanted to use more space in that note, I would have said “That sucked!”  And probably “Holy crap, my shins hurt!” And maybe even “What the hell am I doing this for again?”  But I wanted to be positive, so I just wrote “First Run!”

For the record – after the second run, I wrote “Second Run!”

The ball started very slowly – in terms of frequency and volume AND speed.  Look at that entry again – I got a mile and a half done in 30 minutes.  In my last 5K I did 3.1 in 31.  At the time I’d run for 30 seconds and walk until I could breathe again.  The walking time was embarrassing.   But I went for run #2, and then run #3.  And eventually the frequency started improving.  And the volume.  And the speed.

In the last 365 days, I’ve gone running 181 times.  What started with a mile and a half on a rainy icy morning turned into a year in which I ran 600 miles.  600!  That number feels almost unbelievable now, but it is true.  I’ve run 5Ks & 10Ks, a Ragnar and a Half Marathon.  Zero to runner – that’s what it has been.

And it has been amazing.

I’ve been in a real funk lately – and then I’ve had my toe injury for the past week.  But today I ran 2.5 miles.  Tomorrow I’ll run my scheduled 4.  This year I’m going to run a marathon, and no telling what else.  And next year I’ll be as far away from today’s run as this run is from that very first one.

See you next year.

Ragnar Pictures!

OK – so I got the finish line pictures back from the Ragnar folks – and also got some pictures in from my teammates (hi, Sarah!) … so we gots pictures.

I’ve put a few back in the race report, but there are a few others that turned out pretty good, as well.  So I’m putting all of these in one gallery here, to have them in one spot.


Minor Surgery

So … I’ve decided not to post a picture of this one.

You’re welcome.  Trust me.

I had to travel for work this week, and only skipped one of my treadmill workouts (because treadmill).  And then, on the way home, getting myself worked up for getting the running going again, I do a boneheaded thing.

After I got through security at the airport, but before I put my shoes back on, I decided to untangle the shoulder strap on my briefcase.  This entailed pulling and bouncing and generally acting like I was trying to empty the contents of the briefcase.  Which would have been fine, except that I hadn’t zipped it back up when I put the laptop back in it on the other side of security.

It was all I could do not to scream loud curse words when the laptop hit my big toe.

Direct shot, right in the middle of my big toe, on my sock-covered foot.  It hurt like hell.

Of course the nail turned black immediately and I’ve been limping around for a couple of days now.  Running would have been awful.  Tonight I decided to take fate into my own hands and started working the nail over.  Pretty much immediately I broke the pressure and got a lot of blood … and also pretty much immediately it started feeling better.  After a bit more work I was able to completely remove the nail – while my wife fretted in the background that I’m going to get an infection and lose the whole foot.  Which could still happen.

The nail has been gone an hour, and the swelling is way down and my toe feels pretty much normal again.  It looks gross, but feels normal.  So there is that.

Depending on how it feels in the morning … I’m going to go for a run.

(Edit:  much more sore this morning than I anticipated after last night.  It needs another day to heal up.  <sigh>)

Throwback Thursday Race Report – RR #5, Florida Family Run Fest 10K

(I’m a member of the Running Fools board over on The Motley Fool, and when I started running again they were the ones I went to to talk about it.  I’ve made it a point to do race reports after my events … and I’m going to be posting those throwback reports here to get us up-to-date.  This was my first road 10K, in Flor…well, you should read the post as to location.  This report was written in August, 2013.)

First, let us get this out of the way. There is a town in New York state that is called Florida. Florida, New York. Bills itself as The Onion Capital of the World (which is not a throwaway comment -see the notes below). This race did not take place in the state of Florida – it took place in Florida, New York.

OK – now that we’ve got that straight.

This race was very well done – turns out the race director is the track coach for the local high school, and lives along the route. This is also an established race in a small community, and it felt like half the town showed up to help administer the thing. Just very well done.

Some confusion at the pre-registered table, but I got my bib and we got lined up. After thanking what seemed like the whole town and the recorded national anthem, off we went. Now, I’d looked at the course online, so I was mostly prepared for the hills. The race director, in his pre-race remarks, even said, “the race is what it is” in reference to the hills. But, yikes, the hills never stopped. Very little flat ground over the course of the six miles – we were always either going up or going down.

No flatness ... just no flatness
No flatness … just no flatness

Overall I’m pretty happy with my time here – I wound up coming in just under a minute slower than my goal time. The half marathon in three weeks will be very flat relative to this course, and I still felt pretty strong at the end of this one. As a tune up goes, we’ll take it.


• This was my first road 10K, so an automatic PR – though I did this quite a lot faster than the trail 10K, so it was a PR no matter what. PR!

• Somehow they didn’t have my name on their list at the pre-registered table, and had to get one of the race directors over. When I offered to go get my phone and try to find the receipt for proof, she told me that nobody ever says they’re registered when they didn’t do it, so they got me signed up without me having to pay. I began to doubt myself, and I was completely prepared to send in a check if I couldn’t convince myself that I’d actually paid for it … but I found the receipt pretty quickly. This is one of the reasons we get to races early, and I’ll likely start taking printed receipts to future races just to ease my mind.

• Beginning to develop and practice my half marathon strategy – this is now the second run that I’ve taken an energy gel during the run. Both times I’ve noticed markedly less crappy bonks at the end, so THAT’S good. And people say that these can upset your stomach, but I’ve apparently got an iron constitution because I feel nothing. Except all that glorious energy.

• Good swag bags – standard cotton shirt, nice technical shirts leftover from a NYRR race in June (these were just randomly put into the bags, and mine is an Adult Small – I lol’ed), many brochures, coupons, & samples, a jar opener, pens and pencils, cookies, and onions. Like a bag with three onions in it. As I’m walking away I get “don’t forget your onions!” This is why I know that Florida, New York, is The Onion Capital of the World.

• This race was put on as part of a town festival, and did a great job showcasing the town. I was impressed by Florida, New York.

• Six consecutive months running an event, with events scheduled for the next two. I’m going to struggle to get one in in November – my calendar is packed, and the running calendar around here seems to go dark on just the weekends I have available. This little streak may yet wind up being a false start.

• Next race: Rock & Roll Half Marathon, Virginia Beach <gulp>

Weigh In / Long Run – 11/18/13

This is not a post I’ve looked forward to making.  I put it off until Monday evening, but I can put it off no longer.

The numbers:

Weight:  278.0

Two Week Gain / (Loss):  4.6 pounds

Total Gain / (Loss):  (49.4 pounds)

I’m in a funk.  A funk like I haven’t felt around this part of my life in a long time.  Ever since roughly the half marathon my primary struggle has been food.  Eating well is not something I’m good at, and achieving goals relieves some pressure.  So I’ve struggled both with the content of my food – I’ve been eating a lot of crap again lately – AND the quantity.

Twice in the last few weeks I’ve purchased a bag of cookies at work and eaten the whole bag.

The whole damn bag.

That used to happen regularly.  Of course, I also used to weigh nearly 330 pounds.  Though I had never cut cookies out completely, I’ve been able to keep a lid on the binges like that.  And lately I’ve really struggled.  This, I’m convinced, is the root of my recent several-week plateau.

I didn’t gain weight, though, because I was still running.  In preparation for the Ragnar I kept at it, and kept the mileage at a respectable level.  But lately that has gotten funky, too.  I’m not hurting, not injured.  I just don’t feel like it.  My legs feel dead earlier in runs than they did.  And getting up in the morning (or, as important, going to bed in the evening) has become a real chore.

And then this week I got sick.  Head cold – it was awful.  I walked half of Thursday’s run, and I haven’t run since.

I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and he calls this feeling the running blues.  Apparently this is common, and happens after big races and big goals (hello, Ragnar?).  And that makes me feel immensely better.

Because this feeling isn’t OK.  I think my body was telling me to rest, and for the last several days I have rested.  And for the next couple of weeks … I will do my mileage, but I’m not going to push too hard.  I’m going to ease back into this … but I AM going to get back into this.  My official marathon training schedule actually started last week – so I’m back.

Time to get to 50 pounds down again.  And start pushing for that next 50.

A First

I’m skipping my long run tomorrow.  For the first time in nearly a year.

The sickness … this time … it is real.  My run on Thursday was awful, and I wound up walking half of it.  Skipped this morning because there was just no way.  And the way I feel right now means that I need to sleep more than I need to run.

They say listen to your body.  Well I think my body is telling me to knock it off for a few days.  So I shall knock it off.

I’m not looking forward to the first couple of runs back.

Throwback Thursday Race Report – RR #4, Children’s Home of Kingston 4K

(I’m a member of the Running Fools board over on The Motley Fool, and when I started running again they were the ones I went to to talk about it.  I’ve made it a point to do race reports after my events … and I’m going to be posting those throwback reports here to get us up-to-date.  This was a random 4K, in Kingston, NY.  This report was written in July, 2013.)

No numbers!
No numbers!

So, I’m ramping up mileage in preparation for the R&R Half on Labor Day, and the calendar I’m using says that this was a good week to target a race, probably a 5K. No close race was appealing, so I decided to go with the 4K that I found that was a little over an hour drive away. Since pretty much every one of my training runs anymore is longer than this distance, my stated goal was to go out entirely too fast and see if I could hold it.


Bit of a disorganized registration table, but they got us signed up (all 60 or so of us) and eventually herded out to the start. The first 3/4 mile was straight uphill, and then we went straight back down … and then another loop of that, and then a flat out and back along the Hudson River for the rest. My goal had two parts, and the first was easy – I went out entirely too fast. A couple of times on that first hill I thought “oh, boy – this is going to suck at the end.” And the second part wasn’t so bad – overall, I held out. My pace in the last half mile degraded more than I would have liked, but my overall pace for this one was significantly faster than pretty much anything I’ve done yet – so … yay!


1. First race I’ve run that wasn’t chip timed. In fact, we didn’t even get bibs. And when they handed me a number at the end of the finisher’s chute, I didn’t know what to do with it. I HATE feeling like an idiot, but the people helped and my time got logged.

2. The swag bag was just a t-shirt, coupon, and three raffle tickets. Pretty bare bones. I usually don’t stick around after races for raffles, but the table was full of stuff and since the field was pretty small I thought the odds warranted enjoying my post-race doughnut a little more slowly. They fired it up, and wouldn’t you know the first number called was one of mine. So my swag bag was a t-shirt, coupon, two losing raffle tickets, and a brand new Yahtzee! board game. Plus, you know, self-esteem and a PR and stuff. Which reminds me:

3. Weird distance = automatic PR! Yay!

4. I didn’t write up a race report for the trail 10K I did in June. One word report: Brutal.

5. This is 5 months in a row running a race, with races scheduled for the next 3. Exactly zero people are looking over their shoulder.

6. Next up: Florida (New York) Family Fun Fest 10K

RR #9 – G.I. Joe Bootcamp Pier-to-Pier Run/Walk

At some point in the last 8 months, the monthly streak got hold of me and now it is my mission to keep it going.  Finding races had not been an issue – until November.   I’m traveling for work and we’re traveling for the holidays … and the races just weren’t lining up.  So I decided to start looking for potential events at the places we were traveling to.

This weekend we’re in Southern California for a wedding – and when I started looking at the itinerary I realized that I had an almost completely free Saturday morning while everybody was getting ready for an evening wedding.   A quick search for a 25 mile radius around the wedding venue and the next thing I know I’m registered for the G.I. Joe Bootcamp Pier-to-Pier Run/Walk.

We started here - ran in front of the volleyball nets...
We started here – ran in front of the volleyball nets…

The idea here is that we started at the Hermosa Beach pier and did an out-and-back up to the Manhattan Beach pier.  The length was roughly a 5K, but it was rough enough that they didn’t call it that. And this all seemed great – Southern California weather, flat course, exciting because it feels exotic to me, etc.

I missed the part where we were running it in the sand.  When I realized this, my enthusiasm waned.

Anyway – registration was a disorganized mess.  G.I. Joe Bootcamp is a local fitness program run by Joe Charles, an ex-MMA fighter turned personal fitness guru in Manhattan Beach.  It is a personality driven outfit – and that works, as long as it works.  In this case, it only kinda worked.  They said get there early – I got there at 6am for a 7am start and had to wait a full 20 minutes for the check-in tables to be ready.   Mass confusion about how the shirts were handed out, and the timing was “whenever my National Anthem girl gets here.”  However – we got it registered, so that’s what counts.

G.I. Joe - click picture for story
G.I. Joe – click picture for story

So the way the course worked is that we started out on the pavement, immediately hit what I will call the heavy sand, and headed toward the water.  Maybe 200 yards later we made a right-hand turn and headed down the beach.  Now, the heavy sand was awful – nearly impossible to run in.  The stuff down by the water, though, was nice.  It was solid yet soft, and the biggest problem was the fact that the beach is banked headed down toward the water.  So we ran down to the other pier, touched it, and turned around and headed back.  No course marshals or anything like that – we were told to touch the Manhattan Beach pier and come back.  And it worked.  The final 200 yards back across the heavy sand was horrible, but we got it done.

Manhattan Beach Pier - touch the support and head back...
Manhattan Beach Pier – touch the support and head back…

The run felt really good for me.  Once I was able to hit a groove down near the water, I started ticking off a really good pace – nothing near 5K PR pace, but that was out the instant I realized the sand was in play.  I almost exclusively passed people on this one, and for the last mile or so I was trying to reel in the guy in front of me and just couldn’t do it.  But that pushed me to a happy pace.

Good run.

(EDIT:  The official results were posted, and if we’re calling this a “race” then I am way happy with my finish – I finished 32nd out of 106 overall, but finished 3rd out of 9 in my division (M:30-39).  I left before the finish ceremony, though it looks like they only called people up for 1st and 2nd place.  But I’ll take it!)


– Just a beautiful run – surfers and stand-up paddleboarders and fishermen and seagulls and … and … and.   I made the last minute decision to leave my iPod in the car, and I’m glad I did.  The crashing waves made a great soundtrack, and there was certainly plenty to see.

– One of the things I’m learning about this coastal thing is that distances are very deceiving.  Islands that look close are many, many miles away.  And piers that appear to be just right down the beach turn out to be nearly two miles away.  It was strange to be able to see my mark so clearly from that far away

–  I grew up fishing … but fishing in the surf like that seems crazy.  I wonder how much they actually catch.

–  SWAG – nice cotton shirt (olive drab color, understated logos – nice relative to a lot you get) and a big bag full of stuff.  I guess it is because a bootcamp outfit was doing this, but most of the stuff was either medicine samples (anti-fungal, Tiger Balm, that sort of thing) or food (protein shake, Vitamin C mix, etc.)  And lots of opportunity to sign up for an upcoming bootcamp.

– Did I mention that running in heavy sand is nearly impossible?

– That’s November’s race, which puts me at 9 months.

–  Next race:  Ted Corbitt Classic 15K in Central Park, December 14th

Thoughts on this morning’s run…

A little story about one of those not-so-little things that makes me think this running thing is sticking.

The running path you can't see along the bluff?  I ran that one...
The running path you can’t see along the bluff? I ran that one…


We’re in California this weekend for a wedding, and the bride and groom chose Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes as a sort of “command central” – and this place is unbelievable.  Just gorgeous.

So yesterday when we got here, we did some walking around and exploring, and all I could keep thinking was “this is going to be a spectacular run – wow, how cool is that running path – man, this is perfect for running.”

And then this morning, even after jet lag and late-night drinks and vacation and all of the reasons why I could have blown off a run … I got up and went for a run.  And was excited to do it.

And it was glorious.  I read somewhere that running cleans in places that soap can’t reach.

I feel clean this morning.

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